Ohio State needed another last-second shot, and Aaron Craft had the ball at the top of the key again.
But last week’s hero gave it up to the hottest hand on the floor, and LaQuinton Ross sent the Buckeyes to the brink of their second straight Final Four.
Ross hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with two seconds to play, and Ohio State advanced to the West Regional final with a 73-70 victory over Arizona Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Ross, Ohio State’s remarkable reserve, scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half for the second-seeded Buckeyes (29-7), who rallied from an early 11-point deficit. With Ross making a series of tough shots capped by that dramatic three, Ohio State weathered the sixth-seeded Wildcats’ late charge for its 11th consecutive victory since mid-February.
‘‘It feels great, man,’’ said Ross, a once-ballyhooed recruit who has grown into a bigger role in the past two months. ‘‘I think this is what every player grows up looking at on TV, wanting to hit that big shot for an NCAA Tournament team. It just feels great right now.’’
Deshaun Thomas scored 20 points for Ohio State, and Craft added 13 before ceding Ohio State’s final shot to Ross when the Wildcats didn’t make the proper switch on the Buckeyes’ screen. Ross coolly drilled his second 3-pointer and set off a wild celebration in the Ohio State section of the Arizona-dominated crowd.
‘‘LaQuinton has grown in a lot of areas,’’ Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. ‘‘I think the biggest thing he’s done is he’s engaged himself in all the little things, and that’s made him a better basketball player.’’
Mark Lyons scored 23 points for the Wildcats (27-8). Solomon Hill added 16 points in his native Los Angeles, but the rest of Arizona combined for just 31 points on 10-for-29 shooting.
Wichita St. 72, La Salle 58 — The Shockers went from sweet to elite, beating the Explorers in the nightcap at Staples Center to reach the final eight for the first time in 32 years.
Malcolm Armstead scored 18 points, Carl Hall added 16 points, and freshman Ron Baker 13 for the ninth-seeded Shockers, who proved their upset of No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the third round was no fluke. They never trailed in this matchup of small schools whose past NCAA success was long buried in the history books.
Wichita State (29-8) tied the school’s 2010-11 team for most wins. That group won the NIT.
These Shockers have designs on next matching what the 1965 team did — reaching the Final Four.
La Salle (24-10) briefly fought back in the second half — getting within 11 — but the Shockers made sure the history of No. 13 seeds never making the final eight remained intact.
Jerrell Wright and Tyrone Garland led the Explorers with 16 points each. Ramon Galloway, who averages a team-leading 17.4 points, was held to 11 for a program that won the 1954 NCAA championship and reached the 1955 title game.
Wichita State dominated inside, owning a 47-29 rebounding edge.